Which voice to listen to? - by Liz Carter
|That blank page feeling|
I’ve been reading a book written by poet and songwriter Michael Card, about creativity and faith – Scribbling in the Sand. It’s come at a good time, because I’ve been feeling somewhat ‘dried-up’ in my own creativity; I sit at a screen and see a blank page, and ask myself what I have to contribute to this page today. Early in the book, Michael refers to a ‘voice’ that ‘frustrates, befuddles and frankly terrorises me every time I sit down to write anything, be it a letter or a song. Sometimes it sounds like my own voice; at other times I do not recognize it at all. These are the kinds of words it whispers:
‘There is no conceivable way someone like you can create this.’‘How can you possibly hope to do better than-------?’‘No one will listen or care what you have to say.’‘Aren’t you too tired?’‘What do you think you are, some kind of celebrity?’’
I recognise this voice. All too well. What about you? It stalks me at my worst times, whispering words of despair rather than hope. It tells me I’m having myself on, that I’m making a laughing-stock of myself, that I am deluded about my own creativity. Instead of spurring me on, it shuts me down, and so I close that blank screen down, still bleakly blank, accusing me. I can’t do this.
I find it comes in cycles. At other times, I hear the voice which sparks life, the voice that fires and inspires me. And every time I listen to this voice, something happens: I turn my eyes away from myself and pour all of me into the creative act, that act which joins with the Creator in making something new, in trying to grasp hold of beauty or awe or an over-arching story. My eyes are firmly turned to the One who is all creativity, and so I am set free to be who I am created to be.
Michael Card concurs with this. He goes on to say:
‘I argue with this voice. I try to ignore it, like the ringing in my ears. To date I have found only one way to make it go away and leave me alone, and that is to shift my focus. Look again at the things it says. Each statement has one thing in common: “you.” Creativity is not about me. It is not about you.
Creativity is a response.’
For me, I find that when I concentrate too much on my own shortcomings and forget to search for the source of my creativity, I lose something and the voice becomes more prevalent, and when I allow it to become louder it begins to take over, until I can’t hear anything else. And that’s when the blank screen remains blank, and the frustration grows, and the creativity is locked inside, choked by a voice which seeks to dampen and destroy.
Yet when I make an active decision to search for my creativity within the voice of my Creator, I am liberated to skip across the page leaving trails of hope and beauty, and my perspective is changed, not just about my own writing, but about comparison, too. Instead of worrying I will never be as good as others, I learn to appreciate what others are creating, and allow their words and art to challenge me and change me, instead of becoming a burden to me because they are more beautiful than mine. And what freedom I find in this.
I’m telling myself this today, again, as I sit with a blank screen. I’m trying to work on my next book, but it’s slow in coming, and the voices are crowding in, mocking me and dampening my spirit. So now is the time to break free, to remember where creativity comes from and to joyfully embrace gifts that God has given, without worrying that my gifts are not as strong as others. What does it matter, in the end? If we are fulfilling our calling to write, in the way unique to us, then that is something more precious than gold. We are tapping into the creativity of the one who spun galaxies and flung stars, who painted skies and stroked glorious colours into being. Let’s not allow the destructive voices to halt our calling today.
Liz Carter is an author and blogger from Shropshire. Her first book, Catching Contentment, was published by IVP in 2018.May you find your unique voice within the hope-filled shout of creation.May you be assured of your calling to be a co-creator,And certain of the Father’s delight in who you are as well as what you make.May you resist the voice which seeks to destroyAnd be liberated into the glorious freedom of who you are in GodDance into your pages with joyAnd write hope into the day.